Business

I flew on Qatar Airways and saw why it’s one of the best airlines in the world even in economy

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

  • Qatar Airways is one of the world’s best premium airlines, offering global connectivity through its Doha, Qatar hub.
  • A carefully orchestrated effort to become a leading global carrier has resulted in stellar onboard passenger experiences, regardless of cabin class.
  • New aircraft have also been joining the Qatar Airways fleet complete with some of the latest aviation innovations and seat products.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Qatar Airways is one of the world’s leading premium airlines, connecting the world through Doha in its namesake home country as an integral member of the Middle Eastern “big three” mega carriers.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777
A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200LR.

Over the years, a carefully orchestrated effort to grow the airline into a leading global carrier has seen a steady stream of new aircraft arriving in the Qatar Airways fleet. Nearly every new Airbus and Boeing wide-body jet has found a home with Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways A350 Order

The new aircraft also come loaded with some of the latest innovations in aviation technology in both the cockpit and passenger cabin. Those innovations, as well as a heightened focus on customer service, have resulted in stellar onboard passenger experiences regardless of cabin class.

Qatar QSuite Business Class Review Airbus A350 DS_3353

In its most recent award ceremony in 2019, Skytrax named Qatar Airways its “airline of the year.” Qatar Airways also won best airline in the Middle East awards from both Skytrax and Trip Advisor, a coveted title among the world’s glitziest carriers that also includes Emirates and Etihad.

Qatar Airways

On a recent trip to Qatar to see the new Gulfstream G700, I booked a flight on Qatar Airways from Madrid to Doha. Here’s what it was like.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Read More: Gulfstream just debuted its new $75 million ultra-long-range plane that’s also the world’s largest purpose-built private jet: Meet the G700

I caught the morning flight to Doha on Qatar Airways, operated by the newest aircraft type in its fleet, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Check-in was simple as I was able to get my boarding pass through American Airlines before my flight from New York to Madrid. Gate agents verified that I had all the required documentation, including my negative COVID-19 PCR test and the pandemic-era approvals to enter Qatar from the government.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 8:25 a.m. but as there were only around 80 passengers on the flight, gate agents held off for a bit.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

But soon enough, we boarded in groups and walked down the glass jetways onto our awaiting aircraft.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

A total of 311 seats across two cabins comprise this aircraft with business class and economy class available for booking. First class cabins are only available on Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380 aircraft; though, they have been temporarily grounded during the pandemic.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Before heading back to economy, I was able to see the airline’s new business class suites, known as “Qsuites” onboard this aircraft.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

A total of 30 Qsuites are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration in an eight-row cabin situated entirely between the first two boarding doors.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The 787-9 Dreamliner is the smallest Qatar Airways aircraft to feature Qsuites but many of the product’s staples remain. The suite walls and closeable doors offer passengers impressive levels of privacy and the feeling of exclusivity, almost as if they’re the only passengers on the plane.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Each suite also offers direct aisle access and fully lie-flat seats that convert into a 79-inch bed.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

After gawking at the business class in which I could only dream of spending the flight, I headed back to economy where I’d be spending the next seven hours.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

A total of 281 seats comprise the economy cabin in a 3-3-3 layout that’s standard for the Dreamliner.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The cloth seats looked incredibly inviting and on top of each seat was a pillow and blanket kit.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

I sat down and felt completely at home given the excess of legroom and seat pitch. There was plenty of room to stretch out and it was a great change compared to the American flight I had just taken.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The star of the seat is the massive 13-inch in-flight entertainment screen that nearly takes up the entire seat-back.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

What impressed me the most about the in-flight entertainment system, dubbed “Oryx One,” wasn’t the size of the screen but the amount of content available.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

More than 4,000 selections of movies, television shows, music, games, and more were on offer.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The movie selection featured a global selection of films from Hollywood to Bollywood and had a good selection of new releases and older classics.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The television show lineup wasn’t as impressive but one show called “Wellington Paranormal” was available and that had been on my list to watch for a while.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

I was completely enthralled, however, by the music selection. I couldn’t believe how many artists and songs were available, as well as themed playlists.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

From Taylor Swift to Bruce Springsteen and The Killers to Shania Twain, the system had it all. I didn’t even use the carefully curated music selection on my iPhone because I wanted to create a new playlist on the system.

Flying on Qatar Airways during the pandemic -
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Headphones were left at each seat to use the system. Regular 3.5-millimeter headphones also work just fine.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The seat had all of the other standard amenities including an adjustable headrest, 110v AC power outlet, and USB charging port.

Flying on Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

For those that prefer to use their own devices for entertainment, these seats also come with a built-in device holder.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The flight kicked off with a lemon-scented tower passed around to each passenger. It was sorely needed after coming off an overnight flight from New York.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Gone, thankfully, are the days when Qatar Airways required face shields for economy passengers but health and safety are still very much at the forefront. Flight attendants distributed a hygiene kit containing a face mask, nitrile gloves, and hand sanitizer.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Qatar Airways also makes good use of its in-flight entertainment systems to spread the health and safety message. A brief video outlining proper hygiene played just after the safety announcement.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

And while on the map screen, numerous on-screen messages promote mask-wearing and proper hygiene while prompting passengers to tell cabin crew if they’re feeling unwell.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

We pushed back on time and headed towards the runway. The Dreamliner was so quiet and smooth that I didn’t even notice the engines starting up or that we had begun taxing.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

We reached the runway soon enough and pilots advanced the throttles for takeoff. The Dreamliner’s two General Electric GEnx engines gracefully took us airborne into Spanish skies.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Flight attendants began the meal service shortly after takeoff on the six-hour and 29-minute flight to Doha.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Drinks were served first, accompanied by a bag of rice crackers.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Next came the meal service, with three choices including chicken biryani, lamb stew, and vegetable lasagna. I was surprised with how many choices were available and was glad to see it wasn’t just breakfast items being served on our 9:15 a.m. flight.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

I went for the chicken biryani, accompanied by a chickpea salad, chocolate mousse, and a roll. Every item was bursting with flavor and I was impressed with how good the meal was for economy.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

And last but not least, a small Manner Neopolitaner wafer capped off the meal service.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

All in all, the meal service was through in just under an hour and a half, as we made our way across the Mediterranean. The chocolate mousse was a favorite and it was hard to put it down.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The business class menu for this flight was a little bit more extravagant than in economy, which is to be expected, and dining is on an on-demand basis where customers can order whatever they want, whenever they want.

Flying on Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

After the meal, flight attendants dimmed all the windows for a darker and cooler atmosphere on the plane. The Dreamliner doesn’t have any window shades and has dimmers instead.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

We climbed to a top altitude of 41,000 feet in a true testament to the Dreamliner’s capabilities. The curvature of the Earth is clearly visible from this height.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

I used the downtime to sleep, having gotten fewer than five hours on my previous flight from New York to Madrid.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The comfortable seat and relaxing cabin thanks to onboard mood lighting made it easy to drift off. These seats also offer a deep recline for additional comfort.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

I woke up around an hour and a half prior to landing in Doha. While I missed the pre-landing snack service, flight attendants had left me a small selection at my seat including chips, two types of popcorn, and KitKats.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

The flight attendants provided incredible service on the flight and it’s one of the best aspects of flying on Qatar Airways. Lots of airlines offer either great service or a great seat product but this airline provided both.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Our journey to Doha was pretty straightforward as flew over Saudi Arabian and Bahraini airspace, which would have been impossible just nine months prior. The two countries, along with others in the Middle East, had blockaded Qatar from June 2017 to January 2021.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Qatar Airways aircraft, as a result, were forced to fly over other countries and some flights took markedly longer. But with the blockade over, our route to Doha was nearly a straight line.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

We landed on time at Hamad International Airport, Qatar’s “gateway to the world” and Qatar Airways’ main base. I used the onboard camera to see the view from the front as we touched down on Runway 34L.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Despite numerous empty gates at the main terminal, our flight was assigned a remote gate and we disembarked by airstairs.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

I stepped off the plane and was immediately welcomed by the Qatar heat and humidity. Though, it was nice to get some fresh outdoor air for the first time in 16 hours.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Overall, I enjoyed every second on the flight from Madrid to Doha. The new plane combined with fantastic service made for a perfect final leg on a long journey from New York.

Flying Qatar Airways during the pandemic - Qatar Airways Flight 2021
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

There’s no question in my mind as to why Qatar Airways is among the best airlines in the world, even when flying in economy.

Flying on Qatar Airways during the pandemic -
Flying on Qatar Airways from Madrid, Spain to Doha, Qatar.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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